Women's Empowerment Central to U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
October 1, 2009
Secretary Clinton Poses With Students and Officials at Ewha Womans University
Secretary Clinton Appears for an Episode of "Come and Join Us" for NTV
Secretary Clinton in Turkey
Secretary Clinton With First Lady Obama at the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony
Secretary Clinton With First Lady Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Sheila Jackson at the Unveiling of Sojourner Truth
Secretary Clinton and Salvadoran Foreign Minister Argueta with Members of a Women's Roundtable
Secretary Clinton With Members of Self Employed Women's Association in Mumbai, India
Secretary Clinton listens to SEWA Participants
Secretary Clinton Meets with Women from AWARD (African Women in Agricultural Research and Development)
Secretary Clinton Visits a Housing Project in South Africa
Secretary Clinton Visits a Housing Project in Cape Town
Secretary Clinton Speaks at HEAL Africa
Secretary Clinton Shakes Hands with a UN Policewoman in Monrovia
Secretary Clinton With U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

In a video message, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer underscored the central role women's empowerment and equality play in U.S. foreign policy. Ambassador Verveer said:"Investing in women is one of the most powerful forces for international development and for advancing the causes of peace and security, democracy and prosperity around the world; and, yet, it’s a force that is still significantly untapped. Equality for girls and women isn’t only the right thing to do -- it’s also the smart thing -- for no country can get ahead if half its citizens are left behind. We still have a long way to go before women have equal economic participation, or equal political representation, or access to education and health care, or are free from violence and have the chance to follow their dreams.

In 1995, when Secretary Hillary Clinton was First Lady, she gave an historic speech at a United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She talked about how human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights. It’s that simple: a matter of equal human dignity, respect and opportunity. In that speech, she said that girls and women comprise the majority of the world’s poor, unfed and unschooled; and that is still the case, sadly. She talked about how women in many places are subjected to rape as a tool of war, to domestic abuse, and child marriages; how they are bought and sold like commodities in human trafficking; and how girl babies are cast aside just because they are born girls; and, tragically, these and other violent practices are still happening every second somewhere around the globe, and these problems are still urgent.

But despite the enormous challenges, we are making progress. We are making progress because women -- and so many good men who support them -- from Afghanistan and Jordan to South Africa, from Poland and Turkey to Argentina, and all the countries in between, women are struggling to change our world for the better. More world leaders are ready to listen and take measures to improve the status of girls and women.

We know what works. We know that when a girl goes to school, she improves the life of her family and community. She is given a brighter future. When a poor female entrepreneur gets access to credit, her business and her family flourish. When a mother receives health care, she and her family can prosper.

Women’s empowerment and equality are central to our foreign policy, because we cannot tackle the great challenges of our time -- whether dealing with the environment, security, the global economy, or human rights -- without the participation of women at all levels of our society.

I hope you will raise your voice and join our efforts. I invite you to explore our website and to learn more about what the State Department is doing; and please sign up to find out about how you can advance the progress of girls and women everywhere. And in so doing, together we can create a better world for all of us."



New Hampshire, USA
October 1, 2009

Jack in New Hampshire writes:

Ambassador Verveer,

Thanks very much for your post. As a student of foreign policy and someone who has been watching the Department closely for a number of years now, I would like to ask a favor of you: please institutionalize this focus on women within the Department of State.

I am thrilled that Secretary Clinton has made women a foreign policy priority, but the United States' effort to empower women in the developing world cannot rest solely on the star-power of one Secretary of State (or, in your case, one political appointee) alone. While Secretary Clinton can and should be our strongest advocate on the world stage, don't ignore the thousands of Foreign Service Officers (many who are women) who are the institutional wisdom of the State Department. From my vantage point, the rank and file of the State Department are deeply committed to working on these issues (reading some of the blogs here in DipNote, it seems they are already focusing on these issues). You need only involve and utilize their talents.

Institutionalize your efforts, bring in the rank and file, and you will make real progress in your endeavors. Secretaries of State and Ambassadors-at-Large come and go, and so do their causes.

The only way to make it count is to institutionalize it.

Looking forward to hearing more from you.



Connecticut, USA
October 2, 2009

Victoria in Connecticut writes:

I agree. Now is the time for women to raise their voices and to be heard. We have much heart that can help heal the world!

Massachusetts, USA
October 8, 2009

Karen in Massachusetts writes:

Hello, I am becoming heavily involved in innovative approaches to these issues and thank you for making this avenue of information available. I look forward to helping.

District Of Columbia, USA
October 8, 2009

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

Thank you for your efforts and your message. Beautifully said: "Equality for girls and women isn't only the right thing to do -- it's also the smart thing -- for no country can get ahead if half its citizens are left behind."

That's the very reason protecting women and children needs to be central to U.S. foreign policy. Humanity will never progress if half its citizens are left behind.


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